Top actor but not wild about Dano’s directorial debut
Paul Dano is a respected and popular actor, familiar to viewers of TV’s War & Peace adaptation, where he was a brilliant Pierre, and to devotees of art-house dramas such as Youth, 12 Years A Slave and Looper.
So when he makes his debut as a director, it’s bound to attract attention, both within and without the film industry. As a result, Wildlife (12A) with a cast led by Jake Gyllenhaal and Carey Mulligan, feels like one of those films you expect to be brilliant only to realise halfway through that it’s merely okay.
Set in Montana in the early Sixties, it’s a story of damaged male pride, watchful teenage anxiety and the limited options open at that time to a woman abandoned by her husband. Gyllenhaal plays Jerry, a chancer who loses his job and goes off to fight wildfires instead, while Mulligan is Jeanette, who, somewhat improbably, begins an affair with a local car dealer. Ed Oxenbould plays their 14year-old son, who watches powerlessly as his parents’ marriage falls apart.
Mulligan gives it her best shot in a film in which not enough happens, and Gyllenhaal’s long absence from the screen is keenly felt.
Overlord (18) begins by looking like a rather promising Second World War film, with visual effects and seat-shaking sound design that wouldn’t shame Saving Private Ryan 2, as a squad of nervous American paratroopers are flown into France ahead of the D-Day landings. Ninety ever-morebloody and nasty minutes later, however, it’s become an out-and-out horror flick full of superviolent fights, ghastly Nazi experiments and cadavers that just won’t die. Only suitable for battlehardened genre specialists and those with a strong stomach. Don’t say you haven’t been warned.
Two months ago, Hurricane – the British-made story of the Polish pilots who fought so bravely in the Battle of Britain – was released. Now along comes 303 Squadron (12A) – the same story but told by Polish film-makers. Not surprisingly, this story of heroic derring-do has gone down hugely well at the Polish box office. But for all its excellent flying sequences, it is hampered by a slightly confusing timeline.
BEST SHOT: Carey Mulligan in Wildlife
WARLORDS: Heroic derring-do in 303 Squadron and, below, Nazi zombies in Overlord